Tropical Medicine Rounds
Trophic skin ulceration in leprosy: evaluation of the efficacy of topical phenytoin sodium zinc oxide paste
Conflicts of interest: None.
The trophic or chronic plantar ulcer of leprosy is one of the principle causes of disability and deformity in the disease and has been given due importance in the evolution of its classification. In view of the diversity of its clinical implications, the World Health Organization was obliged to bring this entity under its remit in order to develop uniform guidelines to be applied around the globe. Despite relentless endeavor, its management continues to represent a dilemma.
The role of topical phenytoin sodium in wound healing led this group to evaluate its efficacy in the healing of trophic or chronic plantar ulcers. The success of the therapy was assessed according to the extent of regression in the size of the ulcer(s) following the formation of granulation tissue.
Forty patients released from leprosy control were recruited. A retrospective diagnosis was made in each case, and patients were grouped accordingly. Demographic data were recorded after the provision of informed consent. Bacterial cultures before and after treatment, and radiography were performed in each case. A phenytoin sodium fine powder zinc oxide paste dressing was applied every day for four weeks. Granulation was graded according to its appearance in order to evaluate the success of the topical therapy.
Of the 40 patients, 26 (65.0%) borderline lepromatous leprosy patients had trophic ulcers, with the ball of the great toe being the most common site. Twelve (30.0%) patients had bone involvement. A total of 22 (55.0%) patients achieved complete resolution of the ulcer, and evidence of granulation formation was seen in 33 (82.5%) patients. The clearance of bacterial load after treatment was a significant finding. Zinc oxide paste per se was not effective, but its role as a vehicle was an asset.
Phenytoin sodium zinc oxide paste was found to be an efficacious, cost-effective, and well-tolerated alternative therapy. Patient compliance was good. Bone involvement contributed to poor wound healing, but the clearance of bacterial load was significant.